3. Penneshaw

Chronicle (Adelaide, SA : 1895 - 1954), Saturday 10 February 1906, page 44


(By Ethel A. Bates.)

Those who have had the pleasure of visiting the little township of Penneshaw have often been heard to remark that it is one of the prettiest spots in South Australia. Of course opinions differ; I have heard lovers of nature go into raptures over its unparalleled beauty, whilst those who only see beauty in handsome stone edifices, of which we have none, call it a sleepy little hole, much the same as many another 'God-forsaken' country township.

I might here say that the place is my birthplace and my home, and when endeavouring to describe it I hope to be pardoned if my remarks regarding its beauty appear overdrawn. I ask you to consider that it has for me that peculiar, indescribable charm which always will attract us to the place of one's birth.

However, Penneshaw is situated on the north coast of Kangaroo Island almost opposite to, and 10 or 12 miles distant from Cape Jervis; there is a splendid seascape, steamers mid other vessels constantly passing through Backstairs Passage, have effect of making us feel our isolation far less than we otherwise should. Perhaps the first thing to impress the visitor is our beautiful rugged sea-shore, on the frontage of the township; there are no high cliffs, but the dark-blue slate rocks edge the seashore for perhaps a couple of chains in width. This fringing of rocks is charming; those nearest the shore assume a reddish-yellow tinge, which makes them look very fascinating.

Christmas Cove, wherein are moored the residents' yachts, fishing boats, &c, and which was also the well-known old landing-place, is very pretty; how often, whilst looking at it on a calm summer's evening, I have wished I could portray it on canvas. When the summer sun is sinking, brilliant, crimson hues, streaking the western sky, the last glare of the sun's rays shining on its glassy surface, the many little boats riding tranquilly on its breast, all this added to its natural charm, would I feel sure, be hard to surpass.

To the eastward of this are sandhills, completely shaded with salt-water bush and a species of large prickly shrub, which, in season, are one mass of sweet smelling, white blossom, resembling the elder flower in effect. This we proudly call our 'Parklands,' whilst on the edge of these hills, on the north side, we have our North-terrace, although, as yet, it bears not the slightest resemblance to Adelaide's North-terrace. Yet we are living in hope!

To the westward project promontories of land, the first being Kangaroo Head, where Flinders first landed and wrought destruction among the poor 'kangaroo.' The exact site of this slaughtering, of such historic interest, is now owned by my father!

Further on we note Point Morrison, where Mr. Thomas carries on his farming operations with all the latest modern machinery. The steamers call occasionally at this spot for the convenience of Mr. Thomas and family.

In the distance, still further west, on a clear day, we can easily make out the township of Kingscote, whilst the furthest point distinguishable is Point Marsden.

Penneshaw is literally surrounded with hills, excepting, of coarse, the sea frontage. The land at their base which is of the very richest, being occupied by Messrs. Simpson and Johnstone.

Of buildings we possess none of beautiful modem architecture; they are, however, all substantial stone buildings, and have this alone to recommend them. St. Columba's Church is a nice little structure in its own retiring way and one of which we feel justly proud. The shops, how-ever, call for little admiration. These are most primitive in construction, but are none the worse for that, as far as meeting the demands of the public is concerned. To illustrate the confidence which our shopkeepers repose in their customers I will relate a little incident. A young gentle-man from Adelaide recently took up his abode here. He has been heard to remark that the K.I. shopkeepers are a complete puzzle to him. He went on to say, 'It seems as if people have only to make known their wants and they are unquestioningly supplied, the man in charge hardly waiting to receive payment, and exclaiming, 'To-morrow or next week will do, or any time,' and this to a stranger. It is the Islander's nature to trust, but I fancy if our friend remains here long enough, despite all absence of discipline, he will have his account politely handed to him in due course. Failing payment, of course the debtor is had up for 'summidgement,' as someone languishing after a big word once said.

During the spring Penneshaw is at its very best, with its green fields of paving corn, and a sprinkling of dandelions with their yellow blossoms adding much to the general effect.

Mondays, Wednesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays are the important days of the week in consequence of the steamer trade. Then it is that the community come out in Sunday best to promenade 'the streets;' then it is that the 'Waybacks' don their 'magpie-colored' suits and revisit the town; then also it is that a degree of expectancy abounds in the air, when small knots of islanders can be seen stand-ing together, discussing 'technical points,' a favorite pastime with the more enlightened mas-culine portion of the community.